Ever wonder why rich people get into politics? I used to, but no more.
When I was a junior at Texas A&M University, Phil Gramm was my Economics 301 professor. He was tenured at the time but left in 1978 for public office, eventually becoming one of the two United States Senators from Texas. When he decided not to run for re-election, I read that he had a campaign war chest of $64 million, which he got to keep, and after only 17 years as a Senator and 23 years in public office. He would never have made $64 million in 23 years as a tenured economics professor. Even Nobel laureates don’t make that kind of money.
Therein lies the secret to politics. It’s not about serving the public. It’s about making money, either through that campaign war chest, various benefits (sometimes illegal) as a so-called public servant (see San Diego’s own Duke Cunningham), or the money that comes afterwards through all the connections made while in politics (see Newt Gingrich).
Here in California we have term limits on many public offices, something that I’m highly in favor of. Unfortunately, when someone is “termed out of office,” all they do is go run for a different office. And because they have name recognition and money, they often win. When they are termed out of that office, it’s on to another office. And round and round we go….
I think there should be no such thing as a career politician. That’s where the problem is. If you want to take a break from your regular job and serve the public, great. Go do it. But don’t expect politics to be your road to riches. Two, four, or six years, and that’s it! Go back to your real job. Make it so that people have to take four or six years off before they are able to run for another public office. If they want to continue serving the public during those years, well, anyone can volunteer for just about anything. Let’s have some new people with new ideas.
If two terms is good enough for the President of the United States, it should be good enough for anyone.
Career politicians are nothing but organized crime, but we can….